Starbucks Adopts Localization Strategy for Coffee Shops around the Globe

Chinese Starbucks

Starbucks Adopts Localization Strategy for Coffee Shops around the Globe

Even though it can safely be said that Starbucks is the dominant player in the field of global coffee shops, the company is trying to strengthen its position even further – and it’s doing so by using localization to inform the look and feel of its shops..


In an article on Daily Finance, Ted Cooper informs us of the latest technique coffee giant Starbucks is using to attract even more customers.

The company, whose shops can be found all over the globe, plans to give their stores a localization make-over to help further appeal to local customers.

According to Cooper, Starbucks isn’t the first global brand to use localization. He says that Kentucky Fried Chicken’s success in China, for example, can be attributed to localization carried out by its mother company Yum!Brands.

Even though Starbucks is a very important player in the industry and has succeeded in creating a homely atmosphere in their shops, Cooper believes some customers feel the coffee company have become the coffee equivalent of fast food as every single store in the world looks the same.

When Starbucks became aware of this sentiment, they wasted no time to react to this.

Cooper says the company has since then opened eighteen different design stores across the globe. Designers travel to these locations to find out how to mix the brand’s own design with the local culture.

Cooper gives the example of Mexico: here, he says, people see Starbucks like a bar, which means the Mexican shops are designed in such a way that they encourage group conversations.

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Another example is China, in which the shops have furniture that can be moved as the Chinese often visit coffee shops in big groups. However, Cooper says, Starbucks is still a recognisable brand wherever you go, and only minor changes are made to let the local culture shine through.

A Starbucks staff member hands out free coffee to customers at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Starbucks' launch in China, at the the company's original outlet in Beijing Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. The Coffee chain Starbucks has started producing coffee grown by farmers in China and hopes to bring the blend to stores all over the world. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

A Starbucks staff member hands out free coffee to customers at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Starbucks’ launch in China, at the the company’s original outlet in Beijing Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. The Coffee chain Starbucks has started producing coffee grown by farmers in China and hopes to bring the blend to stores all over the world. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Cooper believes localization is the key to being successful in a foreign country.

He refers to the example of Yum!Brands, that discovered the addition of soy milk and fried rice attracted a lot of new customers in China. So many new customers in fact, Cooper says, that brand research company Millward Brown stated that KFC is China’s largest foreign brand.

Starbucks, however, isn’t even in China’s top 20 foreign brands. Cooper believes their new localization strategy will add to the high-end feel the company aims at. Moreover, it will set them even further apart from companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts that have only localized their menu in a number of countries and disregard the actual shops itself.

According to Cooper, people who visit Starbucks want to be able to buy the same products all over the world, but want to do so in a different surrounding everywhere they go.

Localizing the design of the shops will ensure the brand maintains its appeal to coffee drinkers all over he world. If this is done correctly, Cooper says, Starbucks’ world domination is guaranteed.

Emma Tidey
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